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Communal Spaces: May’s VOD and Web Series Picks

Women in Sink

At times (after last week, in particular), the very idea of coexistence feels impossible under the Trump administration. Over the past few months, various groups have been told, in one way or another, that they simply do not belong. Thankfully, art remains a stable outlet of community and support. This month’s ensemble of VOD and web series choices highlight various spaces — some physical, some interpersonal— that continue to remind us that we are not alone.

Iris Zaki’s documentary, “Women in Sink,” stems from her personal desire to “meet a community [that she] had lived next to but never had a chance to communicate with.” Set in an intimate hair salon, this Social Impact Media Awards finalist explores how conflicting groups actually have much more in common than they’re willing to believe.

A festival circuit favorite, “Out Run” aims to “make politics fierce.” This documentary follows Bemz Benedito, leader of the Philippine’s Lgbt political party, as she attempts to be the first transgender woman elected to the Philippine Congress. Through her journey, the film provides a “unique look into the challenges of transitioning into the mainstream.” By doing so, it proves that it, in fact, can be done.

The second season of Streamy-nominated “Couple-ish” promises to provide “positive and relatable Lgbtq+ storylines” that are invisible in most art. Creator Kaitlin Alexander — who, like their character, identifies as non-binary — provides a comedic take on the platonic, romantic, and the political.

Finally, Mia McCullough’s web series, “The Haven,” explores a setting often overlooked: domestic violence shelters. Interestingly, McCullough sees such spaces as both dark and light: they represent the horror that accompanies domestic abuse, but they are also spaces of subtle comedy and community, as many different women must operate under the same roof.

Here are our VOD and web series selections for May.

VOD

Women in Sink” (Documentary) — Directed by Iris Zaki

According to Israeli filmmaker Iris Zaki, the seemingly peaceful relationship between the Jewish and Arab communities in her hometown of Haifa is much more complex than it appears. To focus on a space in which they connect through “simple rituals of everyday life,” she spent a month as a hair washer at a Christian Arab hair salon. With what she calls her “abandoned camera,” she captures relatable conversations with its diverse clientele, highlighting the various similarities and differences between these women.

Though the film ultimately argues that this environment is an anomaly of coexistence (ultimately surrounded by a larger political problem), it explores how the flow of women’s issues uniquely operates within intimate spaces. By doing so, Zaki’s film “paints an unexpected choral portrait of this space that provides temporary freedom.”

Watch “Women in Sink” on Vimeo.

Out Run” (Documentary)

Out Run

Did you know that the Philippines has the world’s first and only Lgbt political party? “Out Run,” directed by S. Leo Chiang and Johnny Symons, follows the Ladlad party as its leader, Bemz Benedito, campaigns to be the first transgender woman in the Philippine Congress. She and her team target hair salons, regional beauty pageants, and other non-traditional spaces to rally support from trans hairdressers, beauty queens, and others. Their main political opponent, a homophobic evangelical preacher, pushes them to the limits: they must navigate the ins and outs of maintaining personal integrity whilst fighting for access on behalf of the country’s Lgbt community.

You can watch “Out Run” on Vimeo.

Web Series

Couple-ish” — Created by Kaitlyn Alexander

Couple-ish

This character-driven Lgbtq+ comedy series follows Dee (Kaitlyn Alexander), a non-binary, bisexual Canadian illustrator, and her queer roommate, Rachel (Sharon Belle). To avoid deportation, Rachel claims Dee as her common-law partner, and things get quirky and complicated from there. Throughout its comedy, this series continuously focuses on queer friendships — a territory seldom covered in mainstream media. As Rachel says, “However this plays out, we’re family.”

According to its press materials, “Couple-ish’s” first season surpassed one million views on YouTube. The success of its Indiegogo campaign further speaks to its online popularity, as the series raised over $47,000 for Season 2. The new 22-episode season features “positive storytelling for the Lgbtq community” alongside a diverse cast and crew.

Catch up and tune in to new episodes of “Couple-ish” on YouTube.

“The Haven” — Created by Mia McCullough

“The Haven”

“The Haven” follows the staff of a domestic violence shelter as they juggle their clients alongside their own complicated lives. McCullough’s inspiration stems from her own personal experiences working for a domestic abuse shelter. Implementing both drama and comedy, she aims to provide a portrayal of domestic abuse rarely, if ever, explored. McCullough and her team are also dedicated to employing “women of color both in front of and behind the camera.

Due to limited funds, the first episode focuses on a client’s backstory as opposed to the shelter itself. However, the next three episodes promise an in-depth look into the shelter and how women of different races, religions, and socio-economic backgrounds deal with their new reality, as well as each other.

While we wait for new episodes, check out “The Haven’s” pilot on Vimeo.

Communal Spaces: May’s VOD and Web Series Picks was originally published in Women and Hollywood on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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